7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. ~ Hebrews 13:7 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
Before VCRs and DVD players were invented, it was a big treat to get to watch a movie at school. School clubs would sometimes rent a movie (on those big reels of 16mm film) for a cost of about $100. They’d raise funds for their activities by charging students fifty cents to watch it. We didn’t care too much what the movie was about. We were just happy to get out of class.
In 1973, when I was in the 7th grade, the high school Beta Club brought the movie “To Sir, With Love.” If you’ve never watched it before, you should take the time to see it. It’s the story of a structural engineer, played by Sidney Portier, who reluctantly becomes a high school teacher in the slums of London when there’s no other job available. School conditions are bad, his students are juvenile delinquents, and his co-workers are cynical and strive to discourage him.
At first, his pupils treat him with scorn and disrespect. But when a crisis causes him to begin to treat his students as young adults, they blossom and thrive under his instruction. He becomes a successful teacher, and his students becomes successful young adults.
The movie had a huge impact on my life. At age 12, it made me want to become a schoolteacher. I’ve recently retired from teaching after 28 years, and I’m writing this column from a public school classroom where this morning I’m working as a sub. It’s amazing how much seeing one movie shaped my life.
I watched the film again not too long ago, and I realize now that it’s not totally realistic. Most days at school are pretty ordinary. Difficult students don’t change overnight, and teachers aren’t usually held up as big heroes. But, the truth is, some of the days during my teaching career were exactly like “To Sir, With Love.” Sometimes a teacher does make a difference. In the grocery store, I get hugs from former students who are now in their forties. I’ve had a beautiful life.
It’s fashionable now to make fun of how unrealistic programs were in the 1950s and 1960s. After all, in real life nobody ever vacuumed wearing heels and pearls like June Cleaver. But, the folks on “Leave it to Beaver” were well-mannered, clean, respectful, and attended church every Sunday. They gave people a goal to aspire to.
Positive stories with happy endings are like entrees at Waffle House. They’re usually syrupy, and they might be cheesy. Nevertheless, they make the world better. This week, take time to tell your children stories that inspire.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (Until recently he had a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher drank coffee with his teacher friends on Friday.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.